Katelynn Sampson, 7, was overlooked, ignored before her death: lawyer

TORONTO -- A seven-year-old Toronto girl was overlooked and ignored by those who had the duty to save her and died as a result of their "significantly flawed decision making," a coroner's inquest heard Friday.

See Full Article

Despite gaps in their files, child protection workers at two agencies had all the information they needed to rescue Katelynn Sampson from her abusive guardians, the lawyer representing her mother said.

Officials at the girl's school also knew enough to intervene, given Katelynn's noticeable injuries and prolonged absences, Suzan Fraser said.

Though they called child welfare authorities five times, "they could have done more," she said.

And at no point did anyone ask Katelynn how she was doing or what she wanted, Fraser said in her closing submissions to the jury.

"Her death was not inevitable ... there were opportunities to alter the course of her life, to see her, to speak with her," she said. "Katelynn did not have to die."

The coroner's counsel said in her submissions that Katelynn was "unseen and unheard" by those whose job it was to ensure her safety.

"So many agencies and institutions circled around her and yet remained peripheral while Katelynn was a ghost at the centre," Nicole Bailey said.

"It should have been simple -- Katelynn should have been the focus, the heart."

After hearing from 37 witnesses over four months, jurors on Friday received a series of proposed recommendations from lawyers in the case, including more than 30 supported by all parties. The jury may accept, change or reject them in issuing its own report at the end of the inquest.

One proposal involved the creation of Katelynn's Principle, a doctrine meant to ensure children are "at the centre" of the child welfare system.

Another would see all four Toronto child welfare agencies adopt a shared intake service with a single phone number and location.

The sharing of information between the city's four overlapping child welfare agencies has been a recurring theme at the inquest, but Fraser said they simply didn't use the knowledge they had, with tragic results.

Katelynn Sampson was beaten for months while in the care of Donna Irving and Warren Johnson, once so hard that her liver ruptured, the inquest has heard.

Her battered body was found early on Aug. 3, 2008, in the couple's apartment. Irving and Johnson later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in her death and were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.

Katelynn's mother, Bernice Sampson, was addicted to crack and gave her daughter to Johnson and Irving in a misguided attempt to give Katelynn a better life.

Both the Children's Aid Society and Native Child and Family Services were contacted about Katelynn or the couple while she was living with them. Oversight was transferred to the latter agency because of Irving's aboriginal heritage.

The inquest has heard that one caseworker made several attempts to have the agency investigate after finding Katelynn in the home. But Irving's file was quickly closed after she lied and said Katelynn had gone back to live with her mother.

Months later, Irving called the Children's Aid Society saying she no longer wanted the child. The call was transferred to Native Child and Family Services.

It took a case worker 16 days to contact Irving, but by then she said she was getting help from Katelynn's school, which wasn't true.

The Children's Aid Society also raised concerns after a record check found allegations of sexual abuse against Johnson, though no charges were laid. Another call about Katelynn came in to the Children's Aid Society about a month later but the record got lost and it was never addressed.

Anyone who visited Irving and Johnson's home would have known that Katelynn should not be in their care, Irving's lawyer said in her closing statement.

And every child protection worker, every school official, and every police officer who interacted with the girl or her guardians "should have seen the red flags," Julie Kirkpatrick said.

"There were so many opportunities for Katelynn to be saved by so many people."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Tsunami watch after 8.0 quake off Solomon Islands

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK — The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting that a magnitude-8.0 earthquake has struck in waters off of the Solomon Islands. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami watch for Hawaii following the early Friday temblor. Source
  • N.S. man charged in murder of elderly veteran in decade-old case

    Canada News CTV News
    SYDNEY, N.S. -- A Cape Breton man has been charged in the murder of an 82-year-old Second World War veteran more than 10 years ago. Cape Breton Regional Police say 49-year-old Raymond Glenn Farrow of Glace Bay was arrested Wednesday and is facing a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Harold "Buster" Slaunwhite. Source
  • 20 years for fatally stabbing man 17 times in Edmonton hotel parking lot

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A Grande Prairie man who stabbed another man 17 times in a hotel parking lot — killing him — was handed a 20-year prison term Wednesday. Justin Kenneth Sandquist, 26, had been charged with murder for the Dec. Source
  • Lawsuit against Canadian Forces alleges discrimination against gays, lesbians

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- A former member of the Canadian Forces has launched a lawsuit against Ottawa over alleged discrimination based on her sexual orientation. Lawyer John McKiggan says in the statement of claim, which has not been proven in court, that between the 1950s and 1990s the Canadian government engaged in a campaign to identify, harass and purge lesbians and gays from the Armed Forces. Source
  • Audrey Tobias, senior who fought against Canadian census, dead at 92

    Canada News CBC News
    Audrey Tobias, a peace activist who made headlines for refusing to fill out the census, has died. In 2013, Tobias, then 89-years-old, faced jail time for refusing to fill out the Canadian census because its data was being gathered using software from the American military contractor Lockheed Martin. Source
  • Somali-American lawmaker says DC cabbie called her ’ISIS’

    World News Toronto Sun
    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The nation’s first elected Somali-American lawmaker says she was harassed and called “ISIS” by a taxicab driver in Washington, D.C. Minnesota state Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar detailed the incident on her Facebook page Wednesday. Source
  • Retrial kicks off for aspiring reality TV actress in murder-for-hire plot featured on 'Cops'

    World News Toronto Sun
    Is an aspiring reality TV star a scheming, gold-digging, surgically-enhanced beauty who was desperate to bump off her hubby? Former prostitute Dalia Dippolito is on trial in West Palm Beach for trying to murder her husband Michael. Source
  • Viola Desmond was the right choice

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    I’ll admit I really knew nothing about Viola Desmond until Thursday morning. But now I and scores of other Canadians know a whole lot more. Finance Minister Bill Morneau made the right choice in announcing that the Nova Scotian woman who was born in 1914 and died in 1965 would be appearing on the new $10 bill. Source
  • A second chance in Canada: How singing is giving Syrian refugee children a voice

    Canada News CBC News
    A year ago, they were refugees arriving in Canada, hoping to be welcomed to a new country far from home. Today, this group of Syrian children are singing songs about hope and peace in the House of Commons. Source
  • Lawsuit against Forces alleges discrimination against gays and lesbians

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    HALIFAX — A former member of the Canadian Forces has launched a lawsuit against Ottawa over alleged discrimination based on her sexual orientation. Lawyer John McKiggan says in the statement of claim, which has not been proven in court, that between the 1950s and 1990s the Canadian government engaged in a campaign to identify, harass and purge lesbians and gays from the Armed Forces. Source